Alumni of Presbyterian CREDO, a program of the Presbyterian Board of Pensions, gathered during the 222nd General Assembly (2016) Thursday to recall their shared experiences of revitalization in ministry.
CREDO’s purpose is to replenish ministers’ spirits and guide them in rediscovering the passion that first animated their calls, through sharing knowledge, experience and compassion, and reflecting prayerfully on their spiritual, physical, financial, and vocational well-being.
BOP President Frank C. Spencer welcomed the nearly 180 alumni who gathered for this first biennial CREDO luncheon.
“We are gathered as a national church, yet CREDO is about personal vocation and spiritual centering,” he said. “I believe no program in the church has had such great an impact on the life of the parish as CREDO. Our goal at the Board of Pensions is to see it continue to expand.”
Spencer attended a CREDO conference this year with leaders from the PC(USA), the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church, co-creators of CREDO. “Each of us came away with a deeper self-awareness and a mindful commitment to our own individual goals for faithful life and work,” he said.
At Thursday’s luncheon, Spencer recognized Peter C.S. Sime, CREDO’s vice president of assistance and funds development, who is retiring at the end of 2016. Sime received a plaque reading, “In appreciation for your service and dedication to the development, ministry and mission of Presbyterian CREDO.”
“Peter was the driving force and had the vision over 10 years ago to bring Episcopal CREDO to the PC(USA),” Spencer said. “But for his efforts, none of us would have had the CREDO experience.”
Sime said: “When I am asked … what CREDO is like, I often say it’s like an oasis. It’s not a beginning and it’s not an end, but a resting place in which we find the spiritual, physical and relational resources to carry us forward on the next part of our journey.”
John G. McFayden, BOP’s vice president of church relations, likened Sime’s efforts to those of Peter as recounted in Luke 5:1-11: “When challenged, Peter [the apostle] took us into deeper waters – and CREDO does that for participants.”
It has been nearly a dozen years since the inaugural Presbyterian CREDO conference in November 2005. So far, more than 1,800 people have taken part. The program served only mid-career teaching elders until 2014, when it was expanded to include recently ordained pastors. Today, six eight-day CREDO conferences are scheduled for mid- career pastors each year, and two seven-day sessions are held for recently ordained teaching elders every other year. Participants are selected randomly from the Board of Pensions database.
CREDO has become a major focus of the Board’s educational programs, and its principles of wholeness and wellness are foundational to the redesigned 2017 Benefits Plan.